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Report From PIA – April 19

My husband found a young Juniperus virginiana growing near a storage container, in the shade, so he dug it up and brought it home. We have a group of eastern red cedar along the road, so he thought this foundling was perfect to join its native friends at Poison Ivy Acres.

I was all for this plant rescue, but spotted what looked like shoots of Polygonum cuspidatum, a noxious weed commonly called “bamboo” in this area, growing around the red cedar. I plucked one out, and showed it to my husband.

“This is a problem,” I said, which caused him to get huffy. “Every plant I bring home or put in the ground is wrong,” he said. Then he went on to say something about me being “the plant police.”

I admit that I’m opinionated about the gardens and what goes into them. Overly picky, some might say, not only about the choice of plants but how they are placed. Last week my husband rescued a wild daylily from a vacant lot, and planted it next to a group of other daylilies.

What he didn’t realize was that the cluster of Hemerocallis that were already in place were all the same, named cultivars, that are clump growers, not spreaders, and grouped to provide a show of unified color. The orange-blooming variety he put next to them would be out of place, a distraction…in my striving-to-be-humble opinion.

I told him that the orange daylily couldn’t stay. There are many other places he could plant it, but not there next to its cream and burgundy cousins, no how no way.

He’s right. I am the plant police. On the one hand, I can justify my too opinionated self by saying that this is my area of expertise, after all. I know these plants and I know good garden design. On the other hand, I am denying him the pleasure of discovering plants, placing them in the garden, and enjoying successes or dealing with mistakes.

I speak constantly about the importance of having this experience in the landscape, and encourage my audiences to enjoy gardening as they choose. Yet I find myself unable to walk my talk, and let the man I hold most dear do the same.

Why is it sometimes hard to plant what you most want to grow?

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